A Whiter Shade of Pale hit no 1 on the Go-Set National Top 40 on 12 July 1967.
A re-release of the song peaked at no 17 on 9 September 1972.
Keith Reid got the title and starting point for the song at a party. He overheard someone at the party saying to a woman, “You’ve turned a whiter shade of pale”, and the phrase stuck in his mind.
Gary Brooker said of his composition in Uncut magazine (2014):
“If you trace the chordal element, it does a bar or two of Bach’s ‘Air on a G String’ before it veers off. That spark was all it took. I wasn’t consciously combining rock with classical, it’s just that Bach’s music was in me.”
Procol Harum’s lyricist Keith Reid explained: “It’s sort of a film, really, trying to conjure up mood and tell a story. It’s about a relationship. There’s characters and there’s a location, and there’s a journey. You get the sound of the room and the feel of the room and the smell of the room. But certainly there’s a journey going on, it’s not a collection of lines just stuck together. It’s got a thread running through it.”
This song is also on our Spotify playlist.
If you’d like to dig deeper into the story behind A Whiter Shade of Pale, check out this short video featuring Procol Harum singer, keyboardist and composer Gary Brooker and lyricist Keith Reid.
New to Bang a Gong? Click HERE to learn more about us.